2005 Letter for Local Group Leaders to Send to Their Local Bishop
Dear Bishop__________ (your local bishop)
(See the USCCB website www.usccb.org/bishops.htm for the name, spelling and address of your bishop)
As a licensed local group affiliate of Soulforce, Inc.* that resides within your diocese, we are writing to you to request that we begin a conversation to ensure a place at the Christ's table for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBTs) Catholics, and their families.
As one Roman Catholic Bishop so beautifully articulated, in his recent column, "How deep is our river of faith if we are not actively working to be sure that all are welcome in their own home -- the home given to each of us when we became members of God's family through baptism? ... [W]ill we allow our hearts to grow if we simply lay aside preconceived notions of who does or does not belong? Jesus, loved all, lived for all, and died for all."
Historically, the Catholic Church has often been in the forefront of the struggle for justice for all God's children. It deeply hurts us to watch as the Magisterial Church joins with other extreme religious groups, in leading the fight to deny civil rights to LGBT people. Surely, we could never imagine the USCCB trying to deny divorced people the 1,000+ rights and protections granted as benefits to those who are remarried under civil law. To promote denial of CIVIL rights, is contrary to the gospel of justice.
Last November as we stood vigil outside of the USCCB in Washington, D.C. we carried pictures of four people whose gifts to the Church have been outstanding, and, in many instances, even heroic. These four people, Fr. Henri Nouwen, Fr. Mychal Judge, Mary Moylan and Dr. Thomas Dooley are heroes and s/heroes, who just happen to also be gay and lesbian. They are but a few of the many in our "luminous cloud of witnesses" whose sexual orientation made them exiles within their own church. But Jesus was definitively clear - he welcomed and embraced the exiles.
This November, as in the last five years, many of our Soulforce supporters will again vigil outside of the USCCB meeting. Additionally, many of us will vigil at our local chanceries before we leave for Washington. Before you leave for Washington, we ask that you sit down with the leaders of our local group, and discuss with us these very important issues so that we may begin the reconciliation so desperately needed.
We will call you within the next two weeks to request an appointment to sit down and begin our conversation. Thank you for your heartfelt consideration.
We pray for and with you,
(Signed by local group leaders)
*The purpose of Soulforce is freedom for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people from religious and political oppression through the practice of relentless nonviolent resistance.